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Perfesser Dave returns after long absence to explain Alberta politics to the rest of Canada

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Perfesser Dave (Photo: Dave Olecko)

Some stories are just too confusing for ordinary bloggers to explain. That's when we turn to the expert knowledge offered by distinguished academics such as Perfesser Dave, The Answer Guy™, Canada's No. 1 expert on Alberta politics. As a result of his years of studying Alberta politics, Perfesser Dave knows practically everything there is to know the topic. When he doesn't know something, he knows where to look it up now that he's figured out that Google thing! So if you have questions about Alberta politics, don't just ask some blogger! Ask Perfesser Dave!

Questioner: Hi Perfesser Dave! Long time no see!

Perfesser Dave: Last time we talked, you told me the NDP had just been elected. How's that working out?

Questioner: You're kidding? Right? Aren't I supposed to ask you the questions? I thought you were The Answer Guy™! I'm very confused about what's happening in Alberta. This whole pipeline thing! All the stuff Prime Minister Trudeau is doing! The demonstrations! I need your help to understand what's happening.

Perfesser Dave: Settle down, Questioner. I was being sarcastic. It's a well-known pedagogical technique. Of course I know what's happening.

Questioner: Oh. OK. I think I get it. So, can I ask a question now?

Perfesser Dave: Sure. You've got the questions; I've got the FAQs.

Questioner: The facts?

Perfesser Dave: No, the FAQs. It's an internet thing.

Questioner: FAQ means Frequently Asked Questions.

Perfesser Dave: Really? I didn't know that. Interesting. OK, you've got the FAQs, and I've got the FAQs.

Questioner: The FAQs and the FAQs? Perfesser Dave, I don't get it.

Perfesser Dave: Frequently Answered Questions. It's what I do. C'mon, man, move it. We haven't got all day!

Questioner: OK, Perfesser. Here's my first question: When the Conservatives were in power in Canada, they never built that pipeline to the West Coast everyone says we have to have. They didn't seem to make any progress on that at all. So what can Alberta do about that?

Perfesser Dave: That's easy, Questioner. Albertans can yell at Prime Minister Trudeau, call him a drama teacher, insult his mother and stuff.

Questioner: How's that gonna help? It was the Conservatives that didn't do anything. Mr. Trudeau's a Liberal.

Perfesser Dave: You obviously don't understand Alberta, Questioner. Everyone in Alberta hates Liberals, so …

Questioner: But Perfesser Dave, that doesn't make any sense!

Perfesser Dave: Who said it has to make any sense? This is Alberta! It makes everyone in Alberta feel better to complain all the time. It's an Alberta thing. Even Premier Rachel Notley is mad at Mr. Trudeau now, and she's from the NDP.

Questioner: I guess. But didn't Mr. Trudeau just buy Alberta its own pipeline? And he plans to spend billions to expand it. So people must be happy about that, right? Even if they don't like him…

Perfesser Dave: You're clearly not paying attention. That just makes them madder. You see, Mr. Trudeau isn't finishing it fast enough. Haven't you been listening to my colleagues at the University of Calgary? Every one of them's a distinguished scholar, just like me!

Questioner: But Perfesser Dave, if he'd started building the pipeline when they say he should've, it still wouldn't be finished for years! Plus, that was when the Conservatives were in power!

Perfesser Dave: Doesn't matter. It's not going to make any difference anyway. Haven't you heard about the law of supply and demand? This is about being mad at the Liberals, and the Trudeaus. Get with the program, man!

Questioner: Well, OK, but didn't the Liberals just promise the Alberta oil industry another $1.6 billion or something to keep it afloat till the next boom comes along? Yesterday, I think.

Perfesser Dave: Sure. But do you seriously think that's going to make anyone happy? Haven't you been paying attention? Anyway, the next boom isn't going to be in oil! Oil's just so 20th century!

Questioner: But isn't that bad for Alberta?

Perfesser Dave: Very bad! That's why everyone here is mad at Trudeau.

Questioner: But why does that make them mad? He's trying to help.

Perfesser Dave: He may be trying to help, but he's not a Conservative.

Questioner: But Perfesser, the Conservatives didn't help either.

Perfesser Dave: True, but they're not Liberals. And they don't speak French very well. So they don't make Albertans mad.

Questioner: What's speaking French got to do with it?

Perfesser Dave: Albertans don't like having French shoved down their throats with their cornflakes!

Questioner: Does anyone even eat cornflakes anymore?

Perfesser Dave: No idea. Breakfast cereals aren't my specialty. But for some reason French makes them really mad. Especially when it's the mayor of Calgary speaking it.

Questioner: Oh, Perfesser Dave, I'm so confused. I guess this means Alberta won't take the money, then.

Perfesser Dave: On the contrary, of course they will. And they'll demand more. Then they'll yell at Trudeau for insulting them. Then they'll complain about Quebec getting federal money and demand it stops offering subsidized daycare with competent child-care workers.

Questioner: But Quebeckers pay taxes for that. It's why they have a sales tax …

Perfesser Dave: This is pretty hopeless, Questioner. You really don't understand Alberta, do you? We don't have a sales tax!

Questioner: I guess not. So Alberta's not mad because the Conservatives didn't build their pipeline, which they think they need, but they are mad because the Liberals are going to build it, but they want the Liberals to build it anyway, and they're even madder because the Liberals are propping up their industry until the pipeline is finished, even though they say the industry needs propping up, and the pipeline they want isn't going to make any difference when it's finished? Have I got it about right? You have to admit that's confusing.

Perfesser Dave: Correct. You've got it about right. There will be a question on your exam, so you should do OK on that one.

Questioner: But I'm not your student. I'm just a fictional character engaged with you in a Socratic dialogue about Alberta politics.

Perfesser Dave: Whoa! Now you're confusing me!

Questioner: You're kidding me, right?

Perfesser Dave: Maybe a little.

Questioner: OK, so Albertans hate Mr. Trudeau. What about Amarjeet Sohi, the guy who's handing out the money? He must be pretty popular, huh? I love it when people give me money.

Perfesser Dave: No. He's the most unpopular man in Alberta. Don't take it from me. That's what it says in the Calgary Herald.

Questioner: Because he's handing out the money?

Perfesser Dave: No, because he's not a Conservative. Plus, he's from here. A person from here who's not a Conservative is considered very bad.

Questioner: But the NDP aren't Conservatives, and they're from here…

Perfesser Dave: You need to pay closer attention. A lot of Albertans are mad at them too. Plus, they're acting a lot like conservatives. So they can sort of pass.

Questioner: OK, but the Conservatives never handed out money like this!

Perfesser Dave: That's true. They took Alberta for granted. Why would they hand out any money?

Questioner: But shouldn't that have made Albertans mad?

Perfesser Dave: No, not when it's Conservatives that are ignoring us. We love it when Conservatives ignore us! We hate it when Liberals pay attention. But we hate it when Liberals ignore us too. Sometimes we accuse them of doing both at the same time.

Questioner: But that's just … dumb!

Perfesser Dave: I'm a serious academic. I won't permit you to abuse Albertans!

Questioner: OK, calm down, Perfesser! The Calgary Herald says the Liberals are just trying to buy us with our own money.

Perfesser Dave: Absolutely right. They're buying us with our oil money.

Questioner: But oil prices are way down! How would not spending that money help?

Perfesser Dave: I'm not sure there's much point continuing this discussion. You don't seem to understand the basic concept of being Albertan. …

Questioner: But I am an Albertan! I'm from here!

Perfesser Dave: Really? So you're a real Albertan just like Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Craig Chandler, Derek Fildebrandt …

Questioner: Well, no … They're all from Ontario!

Perfesser Dave: … and Ted Morton …

Questioner: He's from Wyoming!

Perfesser Dave: Really? … Look, I've got an appointment … with a paying student. I've got to run!

Questioner: Perfesser Dave? Perfesser Dave? Where are you going? You come back here! Perfesser Dave …

After years of studying Alberta politics, Perfesser Dave knows practically everything there is to know on the topic.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Photo: Dave Olecko

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